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Top Questions to Ask When Buying Pet Insurance

Three brown tabby kittens lying down

As much as you love your pet, pet insurance can be hard to understand. The cost of medical treatments and quality healthcare is rising ahead of current inflation levels, so having pet insurance can make a huge difference in your pets' lives (and in your wallet).

Although there are many questions to consider when buying pet insurance, here are some of the most important ones:

Does the pet insurance policy cover pre-existing conditions? 

Pre-existing conditions are any medical issues the pet had before the policy start date or during any applicable waiting periods. Look carefully at your policy for this element. There are very few (in fact, we don’t know of any) pet insurers in Canada that cover pre-existing conditions. Understanding if your pet has had some historical conditions that will not be covered by the policy you’re considering is useful to know.

Is there an age limit for the policy? 

Age is a factor when buying pet insurance. The rationale is simple: the older your pet gets, the more medical care they will probably need. Again, most pet insurance policies will insure older pets, just at a higher premium than younger pets. A lot of policies have an age limit. For example, at PHI Direct, your pet must be at least 7 weeks old and under 14 years of age at the time of your initial enrollment - albeit pets can stay insured with PHI Direct well beyond this (as long as they enrolled prior to 14).

Is there a limit on veterinary costs?  

In most cases, pet insurance companies will place a limit on the annual amount they will cover for veterinary costs under the policy. If you choose a policy with such limits, see that it's enough to cover your pet's medical expenses in an emergency. For instance, if your pet requires surgery or a medical procedure that costs more than the policy covers, you'll have to pay the difference out of pocket. 

At PHI Direct, we have two packages, $5,000 and $10,000 of annual coverage with 80% of costs being covered. However, payouts only kick in once the $200 annual deductible has been met.

Does the policy cover routine care? 

Pet insurance policies differ in what they cover - some offer complete coverage, including preventive and wellness care, while others are limited to only unexpected incidents. Before signing on the dotted line, consider what level of coverage is right for you and your pet.

What are the policy exclusions? 

Knowing what's excluded from the pet insurance policy is as important as knowing what it does cover. Common exclusions include corrective procedures, cosmetic procedures, obedience-related procedures, and non-emergency travel expenses. 

Why do insurance companies have exclusions? Well, it can help keep premiums lower and ensure that policies cover the most common situations (while excluding less common types of conditions). No fur parent would want to spend more than necessary on protecting their pet and lower prices mean that more pets can be protected with pet insurance.

Will the insurance provider pay the vet directly? 

This is an important question to ask when buying pet insurance. With most insurance companies, the pet owner must pay the vet first and then make a claim. However, there are some instances where the insurance company will pay the vet directly (Trupanion is a great example of this). Depending on the type of claim and how complex it is, reimbursement can take anywhere from two days to 2 months (in the most complex situations).

How will I be compensated in the event of a claim? 

When considering pet insurance, ask how the claims process works. Most companies reimburse your medical bills when you submit a valid claim which can usually be found on the insurance company’s website. Typically mailing you a cheque or directly depositing your claims payment into your account are the most common ways.

Are there any reviews or ratings I can look at? 

It's always good to check the reviews before signing up for pet insurance (hot tip that you can find PHI Direct’s reviews here). Good reviews generally indicate whether your experience with the insurance provider will be positive. Many review sites are available online; you should read as many as possible before deciding. Likewise, if available, check the insurance company's financial ratings to ensure your policy will be safe and secure for years to come.

When does the coverage begin?

Most policies state a waiting period before your pet can be covered for medical issues. Some may even have an initial deductible that you'll have to pay before the insurer covers any costs. You should review these details upfront and understand what will and won't be covered during the waiting period. 

For example, with PHI Direct waiting periods, accidents would be covered 48 hours after enrolling in coverage, 14 days for illnesses and 60 days for cruciate ligament injuries.

Brown dog on grass looking at camera

Is the policy renewable? 

Most insurers offer renewable yearly, bi-yearly or multi-year plans, meaning you don't have to go through the paperwork and hassle of starting a new plan each time it comes up for renewal. Knowing if the policy is renewable and when it's due to renew will help you plan your budget well in advance.

Is there a multi-pet discount available?

If you’re a larger fur family some insurers make discounts available. For example, at PHI Direct we provide a 5% multi-pet discount for pet owners enrolling more than one pet with us. This can be a great saving and prevents pet owners from having to choose which pet(s) to protect with pet insurance and which ones not. 

Final Thoughts

Every fur parent wants the best care possible for their furry friends; you're no exception. Pet insurance is a smart way to protect your pets and ensure their health needs are met without undue financial strain. So, take the time to research your options and make sure you find the right policy. Remember, it's not entirely about how much you're willing to spend on premiums; you also must weigh the benefits and coverage. 

By investing in a suitable pet insurance policy, Canadians can help their pets receive timely, high-quality medical attention with less stress around unmanageable expenses. PHI Direct offers you low monthly premiums with quick payouts, giving you peace of mind that when the money is needed, you have less worry about paying those vet bills. 

When it comes down to it, pet insurance is an important component of responsible pet ownership in Canada, contributing to a healthier, happier, and more secure future for our cherished furry family members. Learn more about PHI Direct by contacting our Care Team